Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

3 months 3 weeks ago
Reading 1 Rv 14:14-19 I, John, looked and there was a white cloud,
and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man,
with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
Another angel came out of the temple,
crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud,
"Use your sickle and reap the harvest,
for the time to reap has come,
because the earth's harvest is fully ripe."
So the one who was sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth,
and the earth was harvested.

Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven
who also had a sharp sickle.
Then another angel came from the altar, who was in charge of the fire,
and cried out in a loud voice
to the one who had the sharp sickle,
"Use your sharp sickle and cut the clusters from the earth's vines,
for its grapes are ripe."
So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and cut the earth's vintage.
He threw it into the great wine press of God's fury.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:10, 11-12, 13 R. (13b) The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Alleluia Rv 2:10c R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 21:5-11 While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, "All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."

Then they asked him,
"Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?"
He answered,
"See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
'I am he,' and 'The time has come.'
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end."
Then he said to them,
"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky."
- - -
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Texas diocese says border wall on Church land violates religious freedom

3 months 3 weeks ago

Brownsville, Texas, Nov 27, 2018 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Brownsville, Texas is pushing back against a government effort to use Church property to aid in the construction of the border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

David Garza, a lawyer for the diocese in South Texas, told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that “it goes against the First Amendment, freedom of religion.”

The federal government has informed the dioceses that it plans to survey an estimated 67 acres of property where La Lomita Mission, is located near the Rio Grande, the Caller-Times reported. Some or all of the land may be confiscated through eminent domain for the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

A statement from the diocese said that Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville has already entered into several discussions with government officials regarding two properties owned by the diocese in Hidalgo County.

“While the bishop has the greatest respect for the responsibilities of the men and women involved in border security, in his judgment, church property should not be used for the purposes of building a border wall,” read the statement.

“Such a structure would limit the freedom of the Church to exercise her mission in the Rio Grande Valley, and would in fact be a sign contrary to the Church's mission. Thus, in principle, the bishop does not consent to use church property to construct a border wall.”

Garza argued that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security should not be able to confiscate the diocese’s property. He said the land is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a public place of worship.

“La Lomita Chapel is a sacred building destined for divine worship to which the faithful have a right of access for divine worship, especially its public exercise,” he said, according to the Caller-Times.

Originally built in 1865 by Oblate Missionaries, La Lomita was the half-way point between the cities of Roma and Brownsville. A flood destroyed the original chapel building, but it was rebuilt in 1899. According to the National Parks Service, La Lomita was a major contributor to the foundation of Mission, the surrounding town.

CUA social work dean resigns over Kavanaugh tweets

3 months 3 weeks ago

Washington D.C., Nov 26, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- A professor at The Catholic University of America has resigned as head of the university’s social work department, after a controversy followed his September tweets about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Will Rainford, dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service, a department of the university, will take a sabbatical during the 2019 spring semester, and then return to teaching duties at the university.

Rainford has been dean of the social work program since 2013. He was suspended in October after a series of tweets criticizing women who had accused Kavanaugh, then still a nominee to the Court, of sexual assault. The twitter handle used, @NCSSSDean, referred to Rainford’s role at the university.

“Rainford’s tweets of the past week are unacceptable,” CUA president John Garvey said in Sept. 28 statement.

“We should expect any opinion he expresses about sexual assault to be thoughtful, constructive, and reflective of the values of Catholic University, particularly in communications from the account handle @NCSSSDean.”

In a Nov. 21 statement accepting Rainford’s resignation as dean, Garvey praised “Dr. Rainford’s commitment to the Catholic mission of the school. Early on he made a particularly difficult decision to disassociate from the National Association of Social Workers, which advocates for access to abortion, a position that is contrary to the mission and values of The Catholic University of America.”

Garvey announced that in light of Rainford’s resignation, he “will order an environmental assessment to examine the current operations, direction, and atmosphere of the school and address the challenge of maintaining a distinctly Catholic approach to the field of social work.”

Analysis: On sexual abuse, what will U.S. bishops, and the pope, do next?

3 months 3 weeks ago

Washington D.C., Nov 26, 2018 / 06:15 pm (CNA).- Bishop Frank Rodimer and Fr. Peter Osinski were friends.

Osinski was a priest in the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey. Rodimer was Bishop of Paterson, a nearby diocese, from 1978 until 2004.

For years the men rented a beach house together each summer on New Jersey’s Long Beach Island, south of Seaside and north of Atlantic City. There, for seven years in the 1980s, Osinski molested a young boy. The first year it happened, the boy was seven.

The priest was arrested in 1997. He was sentenced to ten years in prison.

In 1999, the victim settled a lawsuit against the bishop, the priest, and the priest’s diocese. Rodimer was not alleged to have have committed sexual abuse, but the suit charged that the bishop had been negligent in failing to recognize what was going on.

In 2002 Rodimer apologized for failing to prevent the abuse at the beach house. He also acknowledged that he had mishandled other cases of sexual abuse involving priests of his diocese.

At the same time, he defended his decision to allow an admitted child abuser, Fr. William Cramer, to serve as a hospital chaplain from 1991 to 2002.

For much of his tenure in Paterson, Rodimer was the senior suffragan bishop of the ecclesiastical province of Newark.

At the U.S. bishops’ conference meeting in Baltimore this month, Cardinal Blase Cupich proposed that metropolitans—archbishops—should be responsible for investigating claims of misconduct or negligence against their suffragan bishops. If metropolitans are accused, the plan says, the senior suffragan bishop should investigate.

If that plan had been in place during Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s last years in Newark, Rodimer would have been the one charged with looking into allegations against McCarrick.

__

Of course, Rodimer retired 14 years ago. And the fact that he was McCarrick’s senior suffragan bishop does not suggest that metropolitan and suffragan bishops are universally unqualified to address charges of sexual misconduct or administrative negligence in the life of the Church.

But Rodimer’s position as McCarrick’s one-time senior suffragan is a reminder that addressing the problems of sexual abuse, misconduct, and administrative negligence is not as simple a proposition as many Catholics, and bishops, would like it to be.

U.S. bishops have learned that lesson in recent weeks, even as responsibility for solving the problem has shifted apparently by the pope’s design, to Rome.

After several confusing and turbulent weeks in the Church, it is worth asking where reform efforts stand, and where they will be going.
 

Baltimore, thwarted plans, and the “metropolitan model”

It is now well-known that this month’s meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference was unlike any USCCB meeting that had come before it. The bishops arrived in Baltimore Nov. 12 prepared to pray together, and then to vote on facets of a plan they believed would address the allegations of episcopal sexual misconduct and administrative malfeasance that have plagued the Church in recent months.

They planned to pass a code of conduct for bishops, create a whistleblower hotline, and establish an independent lay-led team of experts charged with investigating allegations made against bishops.

On Monday morning, as the meeting opened, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the conference president, announced that their plans had been iced-- the Vatican had determined they should wait to vote until after a January retreat for U.S. bishops, and a February meeting involving the heads of bishops’ conferences from around the world.

DiNardo himself seemed stunned. Bishops and observers were confused. Many bishops felt they had to return to their dioceses with evidence that some action had been taken to address diminishing lay confidence  in their ability to address the ongoing crisis.

Nevertheless, the meeting continued. By the end, at least one official action had been taken: DiNardo announced the formation of a task force, consisting of several former USCCB presidents, to assist him in assessing open questions and possible plans that arose from the meeting, in preparation for the February gathering at the Vatican.

While several open questions are part of its mandate, the main job of the task force seems to be developing two competing proposals for the investigation of bishops.

The initial plan for investigating bishops, introduced by conference leadership before the November meeting, called for a lay-led commission which could investigate allegations made against bishops who support the funding of the commission and choose to allow themselves to be investigated.

Proponents of this plan say it has the benefit of inscrutability; that leadership by independent lay experts will ensure fair and thorough evaluations of complaints, and assist the Holy See by providing accurate and impartial information. Opponents at the Baltimore meeting raised a variety of objections: that funding the commission will be expensive, that the commission might not have a sufficient number of allegations to justify staffing it, that the plan puts laity into a position of “authority” over bishops, or, conversely, that the plan does not give sufficient authority to investigators because participation is not compulsory.

After voting on that proposal was suspended, a new plan surfaced during the bishops’ meeting, introduced by Cupich. That plan would have metropolitans, or archbishops, along with their archdiocesan review boards, investigate allegations against bishops. If archbishops were accused, the senior diocesan bishop in the ecclesiastical province would investigate the plan, with assistance from his review board.

The proponents of the “metropolitan model” plan say that it appropriately involves laity, is more consistent with Catholic ecclesiology, and is notably less expensive than the alternative proposal. At least one bishop at the recent meeting said it seems more fitting for bishops to be judged by bishops. Critics of the approach say that while the plan might work in theory, it is too late for the Church to impose a policy in which bishops are responsible for overseeing investigations into other bishops; that trust has eroded in the institution and is more likely to be restored by outside, independent lay involvement. Other critics say that the plan imposes responsibility on the metropolitan he may not be prepared to fulfill, and that could lead, potentially, to legal liabilities.

Disagreement among the bishops over these proposals is not ideological. Both Cupich and Archbishop Charles Chaput support the metropolitan model, though they often have markedly divergent theological viewpoints. Most observers say that both plans have strengths and weaknesses that should be explored before any plan is recommended or implemented. The task force will take up that exploration. Its conclusions will be submitted to DiNardo before the February meeting.

The task force’s work could prove to be for naught, if the pope, Vatican officials, or the meeting’s planning committee already know what they hope to see come from the meeting. Cupich, who was appointed by Pope Francis, said recently that the meeting will work to accomplish some “specific outcomes that reflect the mind of Pope Francis.”

It is not certain that the pope supports the metropolitan plan proposed by Cupich, and publicly floated in August by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, but the appointment of Cupich to the meeting’s planning committee seems to suggest that the pope supports at least the cardinal’s basic approach.

Still, of concern to many American Catholics at this point are not the specifics of any initiative undertaken, but rather that the Vatican does something concrete and direct, and soon, to demonstrate that sexual coercion and abuse are intolerable, as is episcopal administrative negligence.

At the same time, some bishops have said that while the pope’s apparent reticence to commit to a particular plan is concerning, it is also important that such a serious matter be addressed wisely and prudently, so that policies implemented hastily are not subsequently revoked.

For many American Catholics, however, the Vatican’s reticence to allow action seems to reflect a so-called paralysis of analysis. Some worry that episcopal malfeasance will go on unaddressed long after the February meeting-- that while the pope seeks global consensus, reform in the U.S. will remain at a standstill. Some note that while talks are on hiatus, bishops accused of negligence or misconduct, among them Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo and Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston, do not seem to be the subjects of ecclesiastical inquiries into their status.

This situation, they say, will lead to increasingly diminished confidence in the Church’s capacity to reform itself, and increasingly stronger support for the intervention of civil authorities.

These critics note especially that there has yet been little evidence of a canonical process for McCarrick, a situation to which global media outlets have remained attentive.

McCarrick vote

It is frustration about McCarrick that seems to have fueled much of the criticism from lay Catholics of the U.S. bishops. While the stalled policy reform can be attributed to the Vatican, many Catholics have expressed discouragement at a perceived lack of commitment from bishops to press for answers on McCarrick.

Commentators and some bishops seemed especially frustrated that the USCCB failed to pass a resolution encouraging the Vatican to release all legally permissible documents related to McCarrick’s alleged misconduct.

During debate, some bishops said the resolution was unnecessary because the Vatican had already pledged to release a summary report of its own internal investigation of documents related to McCarrick. One bishop said the resolution could be interpreted as an expression of distrust in the Vatican. Some bishops seemed uneasy about seeming to publicly pressure the Vatican, especially since previous efforts to that effect by conference leadership had been rebuffed.

But one bishop told CNA that debate over the resolution got “lost in the weeds,” and lost sight of the symbolic importance of the resolution to Catholics hoping to see an act of solidarity and leadership from their bishops, a collective affirmation of the importance of the McCarrick investigation. After the Vatican’s suspension of policy votes, the bishop said, Catholics wanted to feel that their bishops continue to press for answers, that they are not afraid of what might be discovered.

The resolution, however, failed by a wide margin.

What's coming

These are unpredictable times in the life of the Church, shaped by events with little precedent. But four points seem clear about the months to come.

The first is that the February meeting is unlikely to conclude with the adoption of reform policies. Cupich has said the meeting will be the start of a process- given that the meeting is scheduled to last for only three days, it seems impossible to expect any policies to be adopted or promulgated. This will probably enflame a new round of frustration among U.S. Catholics, and many U.S. bishops, who perceive an urgent need to debate and decide on reform policy.

While a slower process might indeed lead to better, more well-constructed policies, there will be a price to pay for the pace, and it will be measured in the costs of civil investigations, lawsuits, and possible indictments, and in the number of disaffected Catholics who lose faith in the Church while they wait.

The second is that the episcopal conference now seems unlikely to remain the principal method of communication between the Vatican and the U.S. bishops. The pope has rebuffed several public requests from conference leadership for an apostolic visitation into McCarrick, and publicly rebuffed, at the very last minute, their plan to vote on reform policies. And it is telling that Francis appointed Cupich, who is not a part of the conference’s elected leadership, to help plan a meeting for the elected leaders of conferences around the world, and to represent the U.S. in the planning group.

The pope has previously appointed Cupich to accompany elected U.S. representatives to Vatican meetings, including the 2015 synod on the family and the 2018 synod on the youth. The pope has again affirmed his trust in Chicago’s archbishop, who, in light of that trust, and his appointment to February planning committee, will be more frequently seen as an unofficial but important bridge, and interpreter, between Rome and the U.S.

Next, it seems obvious that Catholics will continue to call for action from the U.S. Church’s leadership, as will civil authorities. Their call is likely to grow more impatient. Calls to withhold financial support from diocesan apostolates are likely to continue, although few observers expect such calls to have a serious impact on the bottom line for most dioceses. Far more likely to have serious financial and operational impact on the Church will be the decisions of the U.S. Attorney and state attorneys general-- indictments or litigation could have both domestic and Vatican consequences.

Finally, there is one positive development worth noting. During the recent bishops’ meeting, DiNardo offered several opportunities for bishops to speak candidly about the sexual abuse crisis and their experiences. Some bishops spoke very personally about their own needs, their concerns, their shortcomings, and their hopes. Cardinal Joseph Tobin spoke earnestly, as did Archbishop George Lucas, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, and several others. Some bishops told CNA they sensed the Holy Spirit prompting a more fraternal exchange, a new openness to more human engagement, and even disagreement, on the floor of the meeting.

It would be a strange development if the sexual abuse crisis ushered in a new era of episcopal candor, and a more discerning mode of operation for the bishops’ conference. But as the past few weeks have demonstrated, “strange developments” are the ordinary course of affairs for the Church. What will come next remains to be seen.

Christians in Ukraine ask for prayer as tensions with Russia escalate

3 months 3 weeks ago

Kyiv, Ukraine, Nov 26, 2018 / 04:23 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As the Ukrainian parliament voted to introduce martial law after Russian forces seized three of its naval vessels, Christians in the country are asking for prayer and solidarity to de-escalate the conflict.

Russia captured three Ukrainian vessels together with their 23 crew members Nov. 25 in the Kerch Strait, between Crimea and Russia's Taman Peninsula. Crimea, a Ukrainian territory, was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Ukraine's parliament voted Nov. 26 to impose martial law in 10 oblasts, most of them bordering Russia, for 30 days beginning Nov. 28. Martial law allows military rule and the restriction of rights, including the freedoms of assembly and expression.

In response to the situation, the Baptist Union of Ukraine has asked that Christians around the world pray for Ukraine, for its protection and for the protection of ministers who serve in areas of occupation and military conflict.

“We don’t know all the details of what happened,” said Igor Bandura, First Vice President of the Baptist Union of Ukraine, or what are the intentions of Russian president Vladimir Putin. “But the situation is extremely serious. We are asking for your prayer for our situation in Ukraine as we believe in our Christian solidarity.”

Some have noted the religious dimension of Russian actions.

“The Russian Orthodox Church has broken off relations with Constantinople and is ready to defend its 'canonical territories' by any means,” said Michael Cherenkov, Mission Eurasia’s Executive Field Director.

“Ukrainian Baptist churches in the occupied territories are outlawed as extremists. And in Russia itself, the persecution of evangelical believers is intensifying. All of this suggests that Russia is preparing for a big war in which the religious factor will have a major role,” Cherenkov observed.

Ukraine called the Nov. 25 incident in the Kerch strait an “act of agression” on the part of Russia.

The three vessels captured were going from Odesa to Mariupol, in the Sea of Azov – a seaport only accessible by the Kerch strait. Russia claimed the boats had illegally entered its territorial waters, and fired on the Ukrainian vessels. Three Ukrainian crewmen have been hospitalized, according to the Kyiv Post.

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have been fighting government forces since April 2014, shortly after the Russian annexation of Crimea. The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, and displaced more than 1 million.

‘Power is a service’ Congo archbishop tells candidates

3 months 3 weeks ago

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nov 26, 2018 / 03:20 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Kinshasa has urged politicians to preserve national unity and practice leadership as service ahead of upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, O.F.M. Cap., made the comments during an open-air Mass on the feast of Christ the King.

 

Addressing a crowd of several thousand, including two major presidential candidates, Ambongo said that “Christ the King delivers us a prophetic message--power is a service, humble services to others for their accomplishment,” as he denounced sectarianism and political violence.

 

Ambongo was installed as Archbishop of Kinshasa three weeks ago, replacing Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, who also serves as a member of Pope Francis’ C9 Council of Cardinal Advisors.

 

Among those in the crowd were rival presidential candidates Martin Fayulu and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

 

Shadary, a self-described “fervent Christian” and practicing Catholic, has stated that he has “placed his campaign in God’s hands.” Shadary is also the preferred candidate and would-be successor of outgoing President Joseph Kabila.

 

Fayulu, a leading opposition candidate, attends a Protestant church.

 

The vote, scheduled for 23 December, would see the first new leadership in the Congo since President Joseph Kabila acceded to office in 2001.

 

President Kabila has been the subject of protest and criticism from the general population and from Church leaders. This year, 15 people were killed while attending peaceful, Church-organized rallies against the government.

 

Despite crackdowns on Church events by the current administration, the Congolese bishops have declined to endorse a specific candidate. Instead, they said they have expressed hope for “credible elections for a real democratic alternative,” and for a leader that would “respect fundamental laws,” be a man of his word,” and not exploit Congo’s natural resources.

 

Joseph Kabila came to power 17 years ago at the age of 29, following the assassination of the previous incumbent, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila, his father. He was reelected in 2006 and 2011.

 

In 2012, the country’s 35 bishops condemned the recent election results as subject to “serious errors,” and having been rife with “treachery, lies, and terror.” Cardinal Pasinya called for the results to be annulled and for Congolese to engage in acts of civil disobedience in protest.

 

Barred by the Congolese constitution from seeking election a third time, Kabila was set to leave office in December 2016, following the election of his successor. That election, originally scheduled for November 2016, has been successively postponed by government authorities, resulting in widespread civil unrest.

 

Since that time, Kabila has remained in power.

 

Approximately 40 percent of the population of the central African nation is Catholic. Since becoming an independent country in 1960, there has never been a peaceful transition of power in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Report: 'Aggressive nationalism' fueling threats to religious minorities

3 months 3 weeks ago

Washington D.C., Nov 26, 2018 / 12:12 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- “Aggressive nationalism” is a principal driver of violence and intimidation targeting religious minorities in certain parts of the world, according to the international papal charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

The charity last week accused a “religiously illiterate West” of ignoring the plight of religious minorities primarily in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, saying that “most Western governments” have failed to provide adequate aid to those persecuted and to migrants.  

ACN’s Nov. 22 report, Religious Freedom in the World 2018, is based on a 25-month review of all 196 of the world’s nations. The report highlights 38 nations with significant religious freedom violations, and in more than half of those countries, conditions for religious minorities have deteriorated since 2016.

“Pope Francis, as well as his immediate predecessors, have all stressed that religious freedom is a fundamental human right rooted in the dignity of man,” Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN, said in a statement.

“It is the purpose of this report to draw worldwide attention to this intrinsic link between religious freedom and human dignity.”

The report states that more than 60 percent of the world’s population lives in a country where “the right to religious freedom is obstructed or denied outright.” This includes nearly 330 million Christians who live in countries where they face religious persecution of some kind.  

Religious freedom violations perpetrated by state actors and authoritarian regimes, the report notes, resulted in more countries showing a decline in religious liberty this year compared to 2016. ACN calls this phenomenon “ultra-nationalism.”

“Violent and systematic intimidation of religious minority groups has led to them being branded as disloyal aliens and threatening to the state,” the report reads.

One such country is China, where the increasingly authoritarian Communist government has recently been cracking down on religious minorities, despite a provisional September deal with the Vatican on the appointment of Catholic bishops.

In other countries, such as Russia and Kyrgyzstan, worsening intolerance toward religious minorities meant the countries were placed in ACN’s “Discrimination” category for the first time.

For other countries, including North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Eritrea, “the situation [for religious minorities] was already so bad, it could scarcely get any worse,” the report reads.

Islamic extremism, fueled by conflict between Sunni and Shia Islam, accounted for the persecution faced by minorities in 22 of the 38 countries highlighted. Though Islamist violence has lessened in countries like Tanzania and Kenya, the authors of the report assert that media reports have focused mainly on the Islamist threat from ISIS and its affiliates, while ignoring the spread of Islamist groups elsewhere in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. At the same time, the report argues that Islamophobia in the West has increased, partly because of terrorist attacks and the ongoing migrant crisis.

“There are some like the Rohingya Muslims, whose plight has received due attention in the West, but so many others—such as Christians in Nigeria, Ahmadis in Pakistan and Baha’is in Iran—feel abandoned by the West where religious freedom has slipped down the human rights priority rankings,” the report reads.

Sexual abuse of women by extremist groups in Africa, the Middle East and parts of India was an issue of particular importance highlighted by the report.

ACN, founded in 1947, has been a papal charity since 2011 and serves Christians in 150 countries worldwide.

Doctrine remains problem in relations, SSPX affirms after Vatican meeting

3 months 3 weeks ago

Solothurn, Switzerland, Nov 26, 2018 / 12:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After a meeting between the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the canonically irregular priestly society said the problem in its relations with the Holy See is fundamentally doctrinal.

Fr. Davide Pagliarani, superior general of the SSPX, met for two hours Nov. 22 with Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, the CDF prefect, at the Vatican.

Cardinal Ladaria was accompanied by Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and Fr. Pagliarani by Fr. Emmanuel du Chalard.

In a Nov. 23 statement, the Society said Fr. Pagliarani had been invited by Cardinal Ladaria “to meet for the first time and together to take stock of the relations between the Holy See and the Society of Saint Pius X” since Fr. Pagliarani's July election as superior general.

During the meeting “it was recalled that the fundamental problem is actually doctrinal … Because of this irreducible doctrinal divergence, for the past seven years no attempt to compose a draft of a doctrinal statement acceptable to both parties has succeeded. This is why the doctrinal question remains absolutely essential.”

According to the SSPX, “The Holy See says the same when it solemnly declares that no canonical status can be established for the Society until after the signing of a doctrinal document.”

“Therefore, everything impels the Society to resume theological discussions with the awareness that the Good Lord does not necessarily ask the Society to convince its interlocutors, but rather to bear unconditional witness to the faith in the sight of the Church.”

The priestly society said its future “is in the hands of Providence and the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,” and that its members “want nothing else but to serve the Church and to cooperate effectively in her regeneration … but they can choose neither the manner, nor the terms, nor the moment of what belongs to God alone.”

The SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 to form priests, as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Church after the Second Vatican Council.

Its relations with the Holy See became particularly strained in 1988 when Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer consecrated four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II.

The illicit episcopal consecrations resulted in the excommunication of the bishops involved. The excommunications of the surviving bishops were lifted in 2009 by Benedict XVI, and since then negotiations “to rediscover full communion with the Church” have continued between the SSPX and the Vatican.

When he remitted the excommunications, Benedict noted that “doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.”

The biggest obstacles for the SSPX's reconciliation have been the statements on religious liberty in Vatican II's declaration Dignitatis humanae as well as the declaration Nostra aetate, which it claims contradict previous Catholic teaching.

There were indications in recent years of movement towards regularization of the priestly society, which has some 600 priest-members.

In March 2017, Pope Francis gave diocesan bishops or other local ordinaries the authorization to grant priests of the SSPX the ability to celebrate licitly and validly the marriages of the faithful who follow the Society's pastoral activity.

Archbishop Pozzo spoke about interactions with the SSPX in an April 2016 interview with La Croix. The archbishop, whose commission is responsible for discussions with the SSPX, said that discussions over the last few years have led to “an important clarification” that the Second Vatican Council “can be adequately understood only in the context of the full Tradition of the Church and her constant Magisterium.”

And in September 2015, the Pope announced that the faithful would be able to validly and licitly receive absolution from priests of the SSPX during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This ability was later extended indefinitely by Francis in his 2016 apostolic letter Misericordia et misera.

Duterte: Catholics should pray at home, not pay Church 'idiots'

3 months 3 weeks ago

Manila, Philippines, Nov 26, 2018 / 10:45 am (CNA).- The president of the Philippines encouraged on Monday Catholics to build their own chapels, rather than attending Catholic churches.

“When someone is baptized, you have to pay…when someone dies, you have to pay,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech Nov. 26.

“Build your own chapel in your own house and pray there. You don't have to go to church to pay for these idiots," he added, according to Rappler.

Though president of predominantly Catholic country, Duterte has a record of criticizing the Catholic Church.

On All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, the president said, apparently joking, the Christians should display his picture on Church altars instead of depictions of “drunkard” saints.

“Who are those stupid saints? They’re just drunkards,” Duterte said, according to The Philippine Star.

“Just stay with me. I’ll give you one patron saint so you can stop searching for one. Get hold of a picture of mine and put it on the altar — Santo Rodrigo,” he said.

In August, Duterte called the Church a “hypocritical institution” and before asking at a meeting of business leaders ““Is there any bishop here? I want to kick your a**.” In June, the president said that God is “stupid,” and a “son of a b-tch.” The president’s spokespersons have frequently mentioned that the context for his statements is the abuse he apparently suffered while a student at a Catholic school.

Duterte has said he was molested by Fr. Mark Falvey, SJ, who has been accused posthumously of serially sexually abusing children. In May 2007, the California province of the Society of Jesus reached a $16 million settlement with at least some of his victims.

Duterte, who is accused of human rights abuses amid a brutal crackdown on drug trafficking in the Philippines, ordered this year that Sr. Patricia Fox, a long time activist in the country, be deported, in response to her criticisms of government tactics. After a legal battle, Fox returned to her native Australia, but says she will appeal her immigration case in the Philippines.

In August Fr. Amado Picardal, a priest who criticized Duterte went into hiding, saying that “death squads” had targeted him for assassination. 

 

Pope Francis says priests, bishops should keep an open dialogue

3 months 3 weeks ago

Vatican City, Nov 26, 2018 / 10:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a meeting with seminarians Saturday, Pope Francis said it is necessary for priests to maintain an open and filial discussion with their bishop, since he is the unifying figure of the diocese.

“You cannot be a good priest without a filial dialogue with the bishop. This is something non-negotiable,” the pope said in the Vatican's Consistory Hall.

“As someone likes to say, ‘No, I am an employee of the Church.’ You are wrong,” he continued. “Here there is a bishop, there is not an assembly where the position is negotiated. There is a father who unifies: like Jesus wanted things. A father who unifies.”

Pope Francis set aside his prepared speech during a Nov. 24 meeting with seminarians of the Diocese of Agrigento, in order to, he said, “speak a little spontaneously,” on the relationship between a diocesan priest and his bishop.

The bishop “is not the owner of a company;” he is not “the one who commands” while some obey, others pretend to obey, and still others do nothing, Francis said. “No, the bishop is the father, he is fruitful, he is the one who generates the mission.”

He noted that the term “mission” is a loaded one, signifying the will of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, advising seminarians to “learn to see in the bishop the father who was there to help you grow, to move forward and to accompany you in the moments of your apostolate.”

Whether the bishop is there “in beautiful moments, in bad moments,” he said, “but to accompany you always; in moments of success, in the moments of defeat you always have in life... This is something very, very important.”

The pope said the only way this accompaniment can happen, is if priests have a relationship with their bishop; that he knows them as they are, with their own virtues and faults, personalities, and ways of feeling and thinking.

Since it is the bishop who gives the priests of his diocese their parish or other assignment, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of the bishop knowing his priests, so he can make the right choice in the mission he assigns.

But do not meddle in the bishop’s decision, he warned. “Leave the bishop to sort it out: to organize [things] in the Spirit.”

He emphasized that this is not the same as arranging things into an “organizational chart,” though sometimes the Church may use organizational tools for functionality. “But the Church goes beyond the organizational chart, it is another thing: it is life, life ‘sorted’ in the Holy Spirit.”

The pope also made an analogy between the men in formation for the priesthood and the clay pot, which if not right, the potter can reshape or remake – but only before the clay has been baked.

The seminary is a time of training, he explained, and if they have a disagreement about something or do not understand, they should express it appropriately to the rector. “This is important, to say what you feel,” he advised.

This is so that they each can be truly become “a vessel full of grace,” he said, warning that if they “stay silent and do not talk, do not say your difficulties, do not tell your apostolic anxieties and all you want, a silent man, once ‘baked,’ cannot be changed.”

“And all life is like this,” he continued. “It is true that sometimes it is not pleasant for the potter to intervene decisively, but it is for your own good. Let yourself be trained, let yourself be formed.”

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

3 months 3 weeks ago
Reading 1 Rv 14:1-3, 4b-5 I, John, looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion,
and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand
who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
I heard a sound from heaven
like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder.
The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
They were singing what seemed to be a new hymn before the throne,
before the four living creatures and the elders.
No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand
who had been ransomed from the earth.
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
They have been ransomed as the first fruits
of the human race for God and the Lamb.
On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6 R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD's are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Alleluia Mt 24:42a, 44 R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 21:1-4 When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, "I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.